|P U N J A B||
Sunday, November 14, 1999
scam: directors suspension soon
Bhattal: blast due to lax security
formulate education scheme
Security to be tightened
PRTC to share routes
Lust for land takes them to jail
Action against travel agents
Blunder by SGPC: Mann
PCCTU sore over govt
Govt updating list of
Traders to hold talks with CM
Divali gifts, a drama to tarnish
GVG sees voter fatigue
CM blamed for loss to exchequer
Commercial sites auction
fetches PUDA Rs 96 lakh
Cops raid discos
Implement panel scales
CPI decries hike in bus fares
ETOs suspension condemned
Cong threatens stir against tax
DC: grievances cases to be
Seed scam: directors
CHANDIGARH, Nov 13 The Punjab Agriculture Minister, Mr Gurdev Singh Badal, said here today that the Agriculture Director, Dr Balkaran Singh, would be placed under suspension soon as a criminal case under the Prevention of Corruption Act had been registered against him.
Already the process for taking a departmental action against him had been initiated and a decision would be taken soon in this regard. The police authorities concerned have also started necessary action against Dr Balkaran Singh, the minister added.
Mr Gurdev Singh Badal said the case against the director had been registered by the local police on the basis of affidavits submitted by certain members of the Seed Association of Punjab to the Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, levelling allegations of corruption as regards sale of subsidised certified seed.
However, Dr Balkaran Singh told TNS that all allegations levelled against him were a made-up story and there was no truth in them. No file with regard to the sale of the subsidised certified seed was pending with him and it was being dealt with at a higher level. Neither he had demanded nor accepted money from any member of the seed association or anybody else.
Dr Balkaran Singh said he was being politically victimised by the Agriculture minister. "All affidavits and other allegations against me were managed by the Agriculture minister," he added.
The file pertaining to the sale of subsidised certified seed was sent to the higher authorities for necessary action on September 29 and a reminder was given in this connection on October 18. "I have nothing to do with the file as clearance was to be given by the higher authorities. I was to only issue a permission letter after the file clearance by the higher authorities," Dr Balkaran Singh said.
Asked whether the Punjab Government had appointed any enquiry officer in this connection, Mr Gurdev Singh Badal said the police had recorded the statements of members of the association, and was proceeding further in this case. The government was determined to follow the case to the logical end and not bow to any political pressure, the minister added.
Bhattal: blast due to lax
PATIALA, Nov 13 Former Punjab Chief Minister Rajinder Kaur Bhattal today urged Pradesh Congress President Capt Amarinder Singh to ensure that heads of various cells in the Pradesh Congress did not comment on policy matters.
In a statement here, Mrs Bhattal said it was not right for the head of the financial cell to give a statement on behalf of the PPCC chief while the latter was in London with regard to holding of an all-party meting to plead Punjab's case before the eleventh National Finance Commission scheduled to visit the state next week.
She said as this was a serious issue, only the PPCC chief or the general secretary of the party could comment on it. She urged the PPCC chief to ensure that no policy statement was released by any cell without his permission.
Speaking on the financial crisis facing the state, she said the state was in dire straits, despite a loan waiver of Rs 8500 crore by former Prime Minister Inder Kumar Gujral. She said it was a pity that now the state government was resorting to selling its properties like canal guest houses besides mortgaging assets. She claimed this was the state of affairs despite the Congress leaving ample money in the state coffers before being voted out.
The former Chief Minister said even as the state was facing an acute financial crisis, the Akali-BJP government had failed to maintain law and order. She said lack of coordination between the security forces of the state and those of neighbouring states had led to the train blast in Damtal near the Punjab border.
She urged the government not to become lax in countering terrorism.
Mrs Bhattal condemned the "step-motherly" treatment being meted out with traders in the state. She said the traders were the hardest hit by the "anti-people" policies of the state government, even though other sections of society were also suffering.
Panel to formulate education
PATIALA, Nov 13 Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal today announced constitution of a committee involving Vice-Chancellors of Punjabi, Guru Nanak Dev and Punjab Agricultural Universities to evolve an integrated education scheme suited to the states needs.
Inauguating the 15th North Zone Inter-Varsity Youth Festival at Guru Tegh Bahadur Auditorium in Punjabi University here, he said there was an urgent need to improve educational facilities in rural areas for which a special scheme needed to be formulated.
This scheme should be formulated in such a way that the poor could receive education which would enable them to compete with their urban counterparts.
The Chief Minister said human resource development was the need of the hour. The education standards in the state would have to be improved so that students could stand up to those educated in advanced countries. He said the Centre should also help in this endeavour as the state did not have sufficient resources at its command.
The Chief Minister, who also honoured filmstar and Lok Sabha member Raj Babbar on the occasion, said the leadership qualities displayed by Punjabis had enabled them make their mark in various spheres all over the world.
Vice-Chancellor Jasbir Singh Ahluwalia, referring to five priority thrust areas, said projects for development of Punjabi literature, language and culture would be given top priority. The requisite inputs would be provided to the state government for the socio-economic development of the state.
Dr Ahluwalia said the university would be made research-oriented. He said the university had almost succeeded in isolating a glycoprotein molecule which would revolutionise the process for blood cell culture. Another breakthrough was development of a new anti-hypertension on agent named AG-8.
The next priority thrust area was corelation of indigenous speculative thought to world thought, particularly in the realm of Sikh thought. The Vice-Chancellor said the fifth thrust area related to imparting to the student community not only knowledge but cultural values as well.
Earlier, the Chief Minister hoisted the flag of the Association of Indian Universities. At least 23 universities are participating in the festival. Eminent cine-star and a former student of Punjabi University Raj Babbar, was honoured by the Chief Minister. Prof Daljit Singh, Director, Youth Welfare, read out the citation.
Dr Ram Murti Goel, Pro-Vice-Chancellor, presented a vote of thanks.
Raj Babbar recalls his Pbi
PATIALA, Nov 13 Cine-star- cum politician Raj Babbar, who was honoured by Punjabi University today, was not the best of its pupils.
It was not talent which was lacking in him, but what landed him in trouble with the authorities of the Theatre Department was joining a private theatre group. This resulted in a running fued with the Director of department following which he was debarred from taking his test.
When questioned by The Tribune whether he had only stayed in the department for six months and had not given his papers, Raj Babbar said he had studied in the department for one year. He said he was not able to take his test as the department's head had taken objection to his joining a private group.
The cine-star, however, said he had completed his degree by taking supplementary examinations. He said Prof Harcharan Singh of the department had helped him in this regard.
However, Raj Babbar does not have any rancour for the university and did not wish to be drawn out more into the subject. He said it was because of the department and later the private group he had joined that he was able to gain admission into the National School of Drama. The rest is history, he said.
Raj went on to say he had fond memories of the university and Patiala which had taught him a lot. It is because I was here that I grew attached to Punjabi theatre and Punjabi films although I was born in Agra, he added.
Earlier while giving his acceptance speech at the function Raj Babbar said he would continue to remain committed to Punjabi films and had been doing one Punjabi film every year despite many compulsions. He said his coming film Shaheed Udham Singh represented the most ambitious project in his life. I made it a point to ensure it was in Punjabi so that the deeds of the martyr could be related in his mother tongue, he said.
Raj left many a moist eye in the audience in his speech when he referred to himself as a son of Punjab who would do the utmost for the state. Its language and its culture. He also turned nostalgic giving a vivid account of how he did plays in the upcoming Guru Tegh Bahadur hall in which the function was held today.
Security to be tightened
PATHANKOT, Nov 13 The death toll in Thursday night's bomb blast aboard the Jaipur-bound Pooja Express near Kandrori station in Himachal Pradesh has gone up to 14. The Punjab Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, has directed the security officials in the state that security in trains and buses passing through Punjab be further strengthened.
The Chief Minister, after visiting the injured at the Military Hospital here today, said the state police had been issued instructions to keep a strict vigil at bus stands and railway stations.
Mr Badal distributed fruit packets among the injured. He announced Rs 50,000 for each of the next of the kin of the deceased and free treatment for the injured.
Expressing anguish and shock over the tragedy, the Chief Minister said Punjabis were peace loving. The ghastly act was a crime against humanity and the people from all walks of life must collectively strive to thwart such nefarious designs.
Mr Badal lauded the efforts of the Army in giving medical treatment to the injured. He thanked the district administration for acting fast and shifting the injured to hospitals.
Meanwhile, the security agencies in Punjab, Jammu and Kashmir and Himachal Pradesh have launched a manhunt for those responsible for the ghastly incident. It is yet to be ascertained whether the bomb was planted at Jammu from where the superfast train originated or at Pathankot where the train halted for a few minutes.
The security forces, however, claim that they have got vital clues which could lead to the arrest of the militants responsible for the crime. No terrorist outfit has claimed responsibility for the crime so far.
The Military Hospital has discharged as many as 38 victims after necessary treatment. However, nine victims, five of them in serious state, are still under treatment.
Talking to mediapersons,
Mr Badal said there was need to fence the international
border in the troubled state of Jammu and Kashmir as
terrorists were infiltrating into adjoining states like
Punjab and Himachal Pradesh. The Pakistan-sponsored
infiltration could be checked properly if the Jammu and
Kashmir border was fenced properly, he said.
Are Punjab Police
CHANDIGARH, Nov 13 The bullet proofing of the Punjab Police vehicles executed through Punjab Ex-Servicemen Welfare Corporation (PESCO) during terrorism has raked up a controversy following complaints, alleging use of sub-standard steel.
Even as reports indicate that an enquiry has been ordered by the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) in the deal almost a year ago, a recent exchange of fire between the Punjab Police and their Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) counterparts, leading to reported piercing of one such bullet-proof car has brought the matter back into the focus.
A Punjab Police Inspector was injured after a bullet reportedly pierced through the bullet-proof car in a fierce battle with the J&K Police in August, making matters worse. A team of Punjab cops from Batala had gone to Kathua in J&K for the recovery of arms reportedly smuggled from Pakistan. As the J&K Police wanted to know about the recovery, its officials tried to stop the Punjab Police team at a checkpost. However, the Punjab cops defied the J&K police officials, forcing them to fire at the bullet-proof car carrying the arms.
The incident has raised a question mark on the safety of bullet-proof cars, especially those armoured by PESCO in the fleet of Punjab Police vehicles. Though the police is tightlipped about the exact number of vehicles armoured by PESCO, most bullet proofing was done between 1991 and 1993. It is estimated that nearly 400 vehicles were armoured by PESCO.
Alleging that the damaged car was armoured by PESCO with the bullet-proof steel supplied by a Jalandhar-based industry, the complainant Eagle International Limited of Mandi Gobindgarh has sought a CBI enquiry into the matter. In complaints sent to the Punjab Chief Minister, besides Director-General of Police (DGP), the firm has charged the Jalandhar supplier of steel of not having the infrastructure to manufacture quality bullet-proof steel.
In one such specific complaint to the Punjab DGP on September 13, the Marketing Manager of Eagle International had charged the Jalandhar firm of supplying an ordinary high carbon steel in place of bullet-proof steel to PESCO.
Since bullet proofing involves the question of VIP security, besides safety of the armed forces, the complainant has also sought blacklisting of the supplier. According to the Eagle International authorities, the suppliers had earlier misled the Bureau of Police Research and Development verification team about its steel melting unit in Batala, which does not exist as per the District Industries Centre.
Even as Eagle International claims that the MHA has initiated an enquiry into the episode, the Punjab Secretary, Home, Mr Rajesh Chabra, pleaded ignorance to such a probe. Although Eagle International Director, Mr M.K. Gupta, did not wish to be drawn into the controversy, he admitted having made a complaint to the MHA besides the Punjab Government. Adding that the MHA has ordered an enquiry on his earlier complaints, he, however, said: "We do not wish to comment at this moment, as this may hamper the probe".
Though the Punjab DGP, Mr Sarabjit Singh, denies having received any such complaint, he sought to clarify that the Inspector injured in the Kathua incident was not inside the car when the bullet hit him. Adding that all their bullet-proof vehicles necessarily undergo test firing, he sought to allay fears that PESCO was supplied steel by an incompetent firm. "One of my cars was also armoured by PESCO", he said. Referring to the Kathua incident he said, the bullet proof layer of the car had received a crack and the bullet did not pierce through it as is being made out.
Terming the complaint as a fallout of business rivalry between Eagle International and the Jalandhar-based supplier of steel, the PESCO chairman, Mr U.S. Sidhu, said: "In the absence of expertise, who could armour the police vehicles, we had to get the bullet proofing done from outside". Citing security reasons, he refused to divulge the exact number of police vehicles armoured by PESCO, but hastened to add: "Most of the vehicles we have armoured are VIP cars".
A senior Punjab Police officer earlier associated with the bullet-proofing exercise, however, said most cars being capable to withstand bullet shots from assault rifles are incapable of bearing firing from SLR guns. "Since 99 per cent terrorists carried AK series of rifles,the bullet proofing was done acordingly".
Bomb in wooden fruit crate
LUDHIANA, Nov 13 A deafening sound, shattering of galss and an electric current in the train compartment this is how survivors of the Pooja Express blast near Chakki Bank from Ludhiana describe the blast which left 14 dead and 51 injured.
Sixteen local youths, all in the age group of 16-19 belonging to a dance club, were returning have after paying obeisance at the Vaishno Devi shrine.
Two of them, Vicky (19) and Subhash (19), succumbed to their injuries. The others are still recuperating.
Talking to this correspondent, one of them with severe injuries on the back and his calves, said the bomb had planted in a wooden fruit crate.
Leading anonymity, he said a man of a medium height and built had entered their compartment and insisted on sharing a berth with them. He was carrying a suitcase and a wooden fruit crate.
After the train halted a Chakki Bank, he shifted to another compartment. The train had barely moved 2 km from the railway station, when the blast occurred.
Vicky told this correspondent that he was to his friends when they noticed the fruit crate kept on the uppermost berth. "I never realised that this could cause so much destruction and would cost my friend his life", he said remorsefully.
Sonu said after the blast when he came out of shock, he realised that the train had no roof. He somehow managed to get out of the train along with there other friends Raja, Vicky and Ashok.
"After a few minutes, the Army jawans from the next compartment started rescuing the injured. They were soon joined by Jawans from a nearby camp. Rescue operations began in full swing within 20 minutes," Sonu said.
Describing the scene after the blast, one of the youth said he remembered Army jawans interrogating the man who had left the fruit crate in their compartment. He said the man was arrested in the morning.
Another youth said.
"We did want this man to share a berth with us. But
other people in the compartment asked us to accommodate
him as he was carrying a rail ticket. Had we known that
he was a messenger of death, we would have never allowed
PRTC to share routes
PATIALA, Nov 13 The first ever semi-privatisation move in the transport sector in the state, the Pepsu Roadways Transport Corporation has decided to allot its route permit to 81 private buses which will run at their own cost and would be paid on basis of per kilometre by the PRTC.
The buses will be completely owned and maintained by private transporters. While the driver would be an employee of the bus owner the conductor would be an employee of the corporation. The PRTC would pay Rs 7.85 per kilometre to the bus operator and the remaining amount of the ticket receipt money would remain with the corporation.
According to sources in the department the trial run of the buses began on Patiala-Chandigarh-Malerkotla-Bathinda routes yesterday and going by the revenue collection of about Rs 23 per kilometre the PRTC was all set to commission the scheme through out the state in next couple of weeks.
The sources said the scheme was kept a closely guarded secret by the PRTC who did hold consultations with various union representatives about the utility. Sources said so far there had been no opposition as the buses would add to the existing fleet of the PRTC which meant that more posts of conductors would be required. Sources also maintained, that no PRTC bus currently plying on route would be taken off the road as several vacant routes could not be covered earlier due to the shortage of fleet.
Mr B. Bikram, Managing Director, PRTC when contacted said such scheme was the need of the hour. "It is aimed at bringing profits to the corporation which is currently suffering a lose of about Rs 1.50 per kilometre, he said.
Stressing it to be called a public -private participation scheme Mr Bikram, brushed aside fears that the corporation was on its way to privatisation. "Not more than 20 per cent of PRTC routes will be given to private operators in the scheme," he said, adding that the scheme was a modified adoption of such exercise undertaken in England and lately in practice in Delhi, Uttar Pradesh and Andhra Pradesh.
Mr Bikram said under the scheme the private bus operator would be given a route of minimum 400 kilometres per day within the state. The bus owner would maintain and repair the bus at his own cost. The diesel, oil, and all taxes would also be his liability. The PRTC would only give him a conductor and the corporations infrastructure like bus stands, the network and the PRTCs name. The buses had been designed similarly to the latest PRTC buses, with similar colours, only the yellow and green strips will be altered to some other design.
Mr Bikram said the scheme would be highly profitable to the PRTC. "We will earn money in the range of Rs 15 to 25 per kilometre out of which less than Rs 8 would be given to the private bus operator". He said with this scheme the PRTC fleet buses would also finally see an expansion.
Since 1982 the number of
buses had remained at 1075. New buses and designs had
come but they had only replaced the condemned ones. He
said under the scheme the private bus operators would be
paid on 15th and 30th of every month. Later on some
incentive sharing scheme would also be launched.
Lust for land takes them to
RAMPURAPHUL, Nov 13 The bid to divest Mr Kirpal Singh, residing in Malaysia, of his land by fraudulent means has landed three persons, Mukhtiar Singh, Jagroop Singh and Mukand Singh, into the local central jail.
The three accused, who suceeded in transferring the land beloning to Mr Kirpal Singh in their names by changing the revenue record through illegal means, have been booked under Sections 420, 467, 468. 471 amd 477 of the IPC.
Police sources said the three accused got the land transferred in their names by showing that the original owner Mr Kirpal Singh, was dead. First they showed that they were legal heirs of the original owner and then got the land transferred in their names through the patwari concerned.
The accused then got the intqual of land transferred in their names from the revenue authorities and tried to divide the land into three shares. They also made an application to the local revenue authorities to divide the land according to their shares.
After some time, some relatives of mr Kirpal Singh approached the Financial Commissioner (Revenue), Punjab, for the cancellation of intqual. During the process the Financial Commissioner (Revenue) found that Mr Kirpal Singh was not dead, as claimed by the three accused, and he was living in Malaysia.
On a complaint made to the Deputy Commissioner the matter was investigated and a case was registered after taking legal opinion.
KAPURTHALA, Nov 13 (UNI) Government Civil Surgeon A.S. Sandhu has alleged misappropriation of pulse-polio immunisation funds in December, 1998 and January this year however, he refuted the allegation that similar misappropriation took place last month also.
Whereas several teachers inducted to the mass campaign immunisation programme for three days from October 24 complained that they did not get any refreshment during the camps held in the district for these three days.
The World Health Organisation(WHO) had allocated Rs 300 for three-day refreshment for a group of four volunteers at each camp but Dr Sandhu said he received a grant of only Rs 97,612 for 729 camps which came to Rs 134 per camp of four persons.
Anganwari worker Parmjit Kaur, head teacher Kishan Singh, and teachers Lakhbir Kaur, Mukhbinder Singh and Ravinderjit Singh told UNI that they did not get any refreshment nor money in lieu of it during the three days camps in which they served.
Dr Sandhu said that he did not receive any such complaint. However, at the same time he admitted that some camps might have been left out without supply of snacks because immunisation drive was like a big fair and possibility of some oversight here and there could not be ruled out.
The Civil Surgeon, however, was emphatic in his charge of misappropriation of the funds during the earlier drives held in December, last year and January, this year, adding that he had already requested the Health Department to get a vigilance probe conducted into alleged misappropriation of several lakhs of rupees by his predecessor.
Dr Sandhu claimed that refreshment and training stipend of Rs 50 each was given to all those who did duty in the pulse polio camps, adding Rs 1.26 lakh was disbursed as training stipend to 2500 employees and refreshment also given to them during the programme held last month. He alleged that his predecessor, in connivance with some officers of Health Department, had neither distributed snacks nor paid training stipend of Rs 50 to employees who had done duty in December, 1998 and January this year.
"I have already reported this to higher authorities and requested for vigilance inquiry," he added.
According to sources, refreshment on October 24 was given but allgedly denied to those who went from house-to-house for administering anti-polio vaccine to children on October 25 and 26.
A local voluntary organisation associated with the programme showed signatures of more than 30 employees who were neither paid the stipend money nor given any refreshment. The organisation had brought the refereshment scandal worth Rs 60,000 to the notice of officers of the Health Department and the WHO team which made a surprise check on October 24.
WHO officials came to know of denial of refreshment when they made a random check to find out if the snacks were served to the volunteers and each camp received any contingency fund for the purpose.
Dr Sandhu said that no contingency fund was given to the camps but only snacks were supplied.
Sources in the Health Department did not rule out similar misappropriations in other districts of Punjab.
Action against travel agents
AMRITSAR, Nov 13 Mr Parkash Singh Badal, Chief Minister, today inspected and reviewed the model village scheme for extending self-employment opportunities to the unemployed youth in this border belt at Bhindi Saidan village, 6 km from the Indo-Pakistan border here this morning.
Expressing concern at the problems of unemployment and poverty in rural areas, the Chief Minister interacted with youth and assured them training, guidance and finance from banks for setting up self-employment ventures.
He asked the youth not to hanker after white-collared jobs but set up their own ventures. He gave directions to the officers concerned to identify "suitable vocations".
The Chief Minister announced that a project officer along with team members would conduct a door-to-door survey of villages to identify and prepare youth for different vocations like carpet weaving, dairing, piggery and bee-keeping.
Mr Badal inaugurated a water supply pruject completed at a cost of Rs 10 lakh, a primary school building at Rs 10.80 lakh and a fish pond.
The Chief Minister said the total outlay for this model village scheme was Rs 5.19 crore out of which Rs 70 lakh was being provided by Hudco which had already sanctioned the construction of 250 houses in this village.
The Chief Minister said his government would initiate action against all those unscruplous travel agents" who were guilty of sending young Punjabi boys to foreign countries on the pretext of getting them lucarative jobs in exchange of hefty amounts of money.
In an informal chat with mediapersons at the border village of Bhindi Saidan in the district, he admitted the External Affairs Ministry had received letters from a number of Punjabi youths who had been sent to Cyprus by the agents with the promise that from their they would be sent to the USA or England.
A number of these boys, who had paid large amounts to agents, were now stranded in Cyprus, he said. The Chief Minister said he had already asked the Punjab Director-General of Police ( DGP) to identify the agents and initiate action against them.
He refuted the claim of the Sarb Hind Shiromani Akali Dal (SHSAD) led by Mr Gurcharan Singh Tohra that the ruling SAD had received a setback in the just concluded annual elections of the SGPC.
He claimed his party candidate for the SGPC presidentship had received 10 to 12 votes more than expected.
Bibi Jagir Kaur, who emerged victorious, had received 126 votes as compared to the SHSAD nominee, Mr Surjit Singh Cheema, who had polled 49 votes.
On the contrary, the support-base of the SHSAD had declined in the SGPC general house during the past few months
Blunder by SGPC: Mann
SANGRUR, Nov 13 Mr Simranjit Singh Mann, president, Akali Dal (A), and newly elected Member of Parliament from Sangrur parliamentary constituency, termed the decision of the SGPC chief not to send jathas to Pakistan as a blunder.
Holding Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal responsible for the decision, Mr Mann said the decision was not in the interests of the Sikhs.
He was talking to mediapersons here at the local PWD Rest House today.
Mr Mann charged Bibi Jagir Kaur and Mr Badal with ignorance on international affairs. He said Pakistan was an independent sovereign state and threats to that country by the SGPC were not in good taste.
Mr Mann opined that by constituting the Pakistan Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (PGPC) Pakistan had rather given recognition to the aspirations of the Sikhs by taking over the responsibility of the Sikh shrines.
Mr Mann said his party was willing to send jathas to Pakistan provided the Indian and Pakistani governments allowed them.
Mr Mann predicted a revolt in the Badal faction which, he said, would be speeded up after the proposed Cabinet expansion by the Chief Minister.
AMRITSAR, (UNI): The AISSF headed by Mr Harminder Singh Gill has condemned the SGPC decision not to send jathas to Pakistan on the occasion of the birth anniversary of Guru Nanak Dev on November 23.
In a press statement issued here, Mr Gill levelling serious allegation of corruption in the SGPC, said the setting up of the Pakistan Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee was not a "bad attempt".
Moreover, he said "we cannot intervene in the internal matter of another country".
He appealed to the SGPC President to reconsider her decision.
PCCTU sore over govt
JALANDHAR, Nov 13 The Punjab and Chandigarh College Teachers Union (PCCTU) is sore over the non-implementation of the agreement reached at between the Punjab Government and the teachers union on August 25, at a meeting, which was chaired by the Chief Secretary and joined by the Principal Secretary to the Chief Minister and the officials of the Department of Higher Education. Except the release of salary grant of Rs 23.62 crore as the arrears of last two years, no other agreed upon issue had been resolved so far.
Mr S.S. Hundal, president and Dr V.K. Tewari secretary of the Union, regretted that the orders of the Chief Secretary had not been adhered to by the Finance Department. The order to rescind the earlier order of reduction in retirement age of teachers to 58 years had been reversed by the Finance Department in spite of the Chief Ministers instructions The notified Act of April 26 giving pensionary benefits from April 1992 to the employees of the private colleges also being subjected to fresh calculations.
The Bill which was passed by the Vidhan Sabha on already accepted principle of extending the notification of pay revision to all affiliated colleges had not been released by the Finance Department. Moreover, the arrears of pay revision from January 1996 had not been given as the HRD Ministry had refused to accept the incomplete order of the Punjab Government.
The Union leaders condemned this blatant "betrayal" of the solemn agreement of August 25 and expressed their firm resolve to get justice.
They also urged the Punjab Chief Minister to summon the two files on the Pension Gratuity Scheme and on the retention of the existing retirement age of 60 years and order implementation as his own public and official position had been put at stake by the Finance Department.
The PCCTU would organise a massive protest dharna in front of the office of the DPI (C) at Chandigarh on November 25. The state executive committee would hold an emergency meeting the same day in the afternoon to chalk out the future course of action.
Civilians help to martyrs lauded
ABOHAR: "The installation of a military government in Pakistan is alarming for us and we will have to strengthen our borders and step up vigilance", Brig Mohinder Singh, General Officer Commanding of Infantry Division, at a function organised by the Pratap Kesari Kargil Shaheed Parivar Fund at Sadhuwali village, 35 km from here.
He was happy to note that the spirit in the civilians to help the families of those jawans who had laid down their lives in the Kargil victory still persisted and the parivar fund committee had presented Rs 5 lakh for AWWA and Rs 2 lakh to the Prime Ministers Relief Fund. The committee had earlier donated Rs 5 lakh for AWWA also.
Brig Mohinder Singh said intrusion by terrorists backed by the Pak army had infused patriotism in Indians, irrespective of caste and creed but he wondered why cant we make our will-power so strong and resources ample so that the country is not put to any test.
The people of Ferozepore and Sriganganagar districts by contributing Rs 12 lakh to the fund had shown there was no scarcity of resources. "We had everything but unfortunately the resources were not properly utilised since Independence. We were not residents of a poor country but certain people had been compelled to feel the taste of poverty due to economic disparity", he pointed out.
Referring to the super cyclone in Orissa, the GoC said it was more serious than Kargil but we must realise that no plan was made to counter such a national calamity. Other countries were far more advanced than India in this sphere. This was why the civil administration depended on the Army for rescue and relief operations.
On Pakistan, Brig Singh said the intentions of our neighbour were mala fide. People never wanted a war because it not only led to loss of life and property on both sides of the border but also severely affected the pace of development." We had always preferred friendship but the response was by and large poor. By offering the hand of friendship, one cant be sure about peace on the sub-continent. We will have to strengthen internal security. Either our neighbour should understand well our good intentions or we will have to follow what Chanakya said: "Your neighbour is your biggest enemy but dont forget to make neighbour your good friend." We can change our neighbours attitude by bilateral talks on the table or left with the alternative of deciding the score by a war.
The function, held recently included patriotic songs by Baby Pulkit Grover, Plash Chhabra, Shivalika Bhateja, Vikalp Chhabra and Sahil Nagpal, Noted Urdu poet Jai Kumar Bekas made the audience emotional with these couplets.
list of old-age pensioners
BANUR (Patiala), Nov 13 The Punjab Government is holding a fresh survey to prepare a list of persons who are entitled to the old-age pension, said Mr Gagandeep Singh, Additional Deputy Commissioner, (Development), Patiala, while hearing grievances at a sangat darshan programme at Kheri Gurna village near here yesterday.
The state government had ordered a door-to-door survey and update of list of old persons in the district.
As many as 40 cases relating to health, education, water, electricity, roads, pension and land were taken up by the ADC and 25 of these were solved on the spot while the rest referred to the authorities concerned.
He assured two widows that pension would be granted to them on merit.
The residents of Kheri Gurna village demanded a water tank so that the drinking water supply to the village could be improved. They demanded that vacancies in the village's mini health centre be filled.
The panchayat of Mohi Khurd demanded that the boundary wall of the Harizan dharamsala be demarcated and the Mohi Khurd-Gadri Nagar road be repaired. The panchayat of Basma village complained that people were not getting regular power supply for which they had deposited the required money long time ago. The ADC directed the SDO concerned to submit a report in this regard within 15 days.
Mr Santokh Singh, chairman of the Banur Market Committee, demanded that the Banur-Tepra road be repaired on a priority basis.
Addressing the gathering, the ADC said the government had already accepted the demand for a new water tank at Kheri Gurna village and would construct it immediately. A special case would be prepared for the repair of the Banur-Tepra road. He also urged the villagers to help the survey team in listing genuine persons for the old-age pension.
Traders to hold talks with CM today
BATHINDA, Nov 13 (PTI) Mr Parkash Singh Badal, Chief Minister, Punjab, has invited all five Punjab beopar mandals agitated over amendment in the Sales Tax Act for talks with him tomorrow at Amritsar. This was stated Mr Madal Lal Kapoor, presidents of the Punjab Beopar Mandal, here today.
He said a meeting of all beopar mandals was held in Jalandhar on November 11 in which a seven-member committee was constituted to take stock of the situation created by the new Act and decide whether to intesify the struggle against the amended Act or not.
Mr Kapoor said if the talks with the Chief Minister failed tomorrow a Punjab bandh would be observed on November 23 when all traders sections would observe complete strike.
He said the committee would demand the removal of Mr C.L. Bains, Financncial Commissioner of Sales Tax, at its meeting with Mr Badal tomorrow.
PHAGWARA: The Punjab unit of the Bharatiya Janata Party, a partner in the Parkash Singh Badal government, has lent support to trade and industrys demand to withdraw sales tax notifications which make it mandatory to file the purchase tax returns and renew the sales tax licence every year.
The violations of various amendments in the Salex Tax Act notified by the Punjab Government on September 15 and 29 could lead to imprisonment up to two years, sparking an angry row between the trading community and the state government.
ST Act amendments: dharna
LUDHIANA, Nov 13 More than 250 traders owing allegiance to around 70 trader organisations today staged a dharna at Vishwakarma Chowk to protest against the recent amendments to the Punjab General Sales Tax Act, which calls for punishment, including imprisonment, for tax evasion.
This dharna was jointly organised by the Chamber of Industrial and Commercial Undertaking and the Punjab Beopar Mandal. Various leaders who took part in the dharna described these amendments as a black law. They said they apprehended step motherly treatment being meted out to trade and industry. Leaders referred to these amendments as a law to unlesh a reign of terror among the trading community.
The leaders alleged the Akali-BJP government had failed miserably to fulfil the promises made to the people. They also felt invoking the imprisonment clauses in the Sales Tax Act would further accelerate corruption.
The leaders have unanimously given an ultimatum to the state government saying that if the amendments are not withdrawn in toto till November 15 they will launch a statewide agitation by organising dharnas from November 13 to November 23 at various district headquarters and Punjab bandh on November 23.
Divali gifts, a drama to
tarnish image: SDM
FATEHGARH SAHIB, Nov 13 Mrs Raghbir Kaur Khera, SDM, Bassi pathana, who is alleged to have collected Divali gifts, today refuted all the allegations and said the entire drama had been enacted to tarnish her image. She said she had gone to the market for routine checking and did not even alight from her Gypsy. She said if any other employee had collected the gifts, she was not to be blamed for it. She said she was doing her duty honestly and would not succumb to any pressure.
After the publication of the news in The Tribune, in this regard, the Chief Minister took cognizance of the incident. He spoke to the Deputy Commissioner and sent Mr Sudhir Mittal, Commissioner, Excise and Taxation, for inquiry. The affected shopkeepers made their statements. But till today nobody knows what happened to that inquiry.
It is interesting to note that the Tehsildar of Bassi pathana who was driving her Gypsy on that day and allegedly made the payments has been transferred.
This sleepy town of the district has become a hub of political activity after the incident of alleged collection of Divali gifts by the SDM and the subsequent payments made by her. The incident has divided the ruling Akali Dal and the entire city on political lines. A faction of the Akali Dal led by Rajesh Paul Singh Lalli favours action against the SDM, while supporters of Randhir Singh Cheema, a former minister, are backing the SDM alleging that it is nothing but mud-slinging. There is also a division in the members of of the Municipal Council, eight out of 13 municipal councillors criticised the Municipal President for shielding the SDM.
GVG sees voter
LUDHIANA, Nov 13 Mr G.V.G. Krishnamurthy, former Election Commissioner of India, said yesterday that he was not sure if any useful purpose would be served by the government move to amend the Constitution to enable the government stay in office for a five-year-term even if defeated on the floor of the House.
Talking to newsmen here, Mr Krishnamurthy pointed out that the provision for a five-year term for a government was already included in the Constitution. "As a matter of fact, it is a question of trust and confidence which the people repose in their elected representatives and give them the mandate to serve for the country for the next five years. But because of the ego clashes and personal ambitions, the politicians fail to fulfil the mandate. During the past three years, there have been three elections to Parliament. This is bound to disillusion the public. There was voter fatigue and low turnout at several places in the country. I hope the politicians of India have drawn proper lessons from this experience..."
Mr Krishnamurthy was in town in connection with a talk on "Vision of India in the next century" organised jointly by the Ludhiana Management Association and the Confederation of Indian Industry. He was also the chief guest at a function to mark 110th birth anniversary of Jawaharlal Nehru, which was also attended by Mr Sat Mahajan, President of the Himachal Congress, Mr Virender Kataria, former Punjab PCC chief, Mr Rakesh Pandey and several others. He also gave away Sat Paul Mittal National Award for outstanding service to humanity to Shri Karni Nagar Vikas Samiti, Kota, Rajasthan, and Dr V.S. Nartarajan, Chennai. An amount of Rs 1 lakh each along with a citation, medal and biography of the late Mr Sat Paul Mittal was presented to the awardees.
Nehru scholarships to poor and deserving students, Nehru Scholarship (meritorious), Mittal-Pandey scholarship (Medical) were also presented to students from various schools and colleges. Mr Rakesh Bharti Mittal, vice-president of the Nehru Sidhant Kender Trust, highlighted the activities of the trust.
Mr Krishnamurthy also expressed himself in favour of confining the voting rights to literates only. He noted that 48 per cent of the countrys population was illiterate. But that was no reason why they should elect illiterates to Parliament. A parliamentarian is expected enact laws. But before he does that he must be able to understand it.
And only an educated
person can do that," he said, adding that it was not
necessary that if there were 50 blind persons in a bus,
the driver should also be blind. Mr Krishnamurthy felt
that a minimum qualification of matriculation should be
prescribed for every voter.
CM blamed for loss to
FATEHAGARH SAHIB, Nov 13 The ruling Akali Dal is responsible for bankruptcy in the state. The government has failed to secure a single penny for development works from the Centre during the past 18 months. Neither has the money earmarked for sanctioned projects been cleared by the pre-investment board.
These allegations were levelled by Mr Balwant Singh Ramoowalia, President, Lok Bhalai Party, against the govermment during a talk with mediapersons here today.
He said the Akali Dal had 13 MPs and yet had failed to bring money from the Centre. Now that their strength had been reduced, it was unlikely the Centre would give any money. He said the cause of the bankruptcy was that Mr Parkash Singh Badal and his men had pocketed Rs 80 crore and excise income had not been deposited with the state with treasury.
He said the Badal government has been benefiting its men. Bids for wine contract had been awarded to his favourites. Government property was being sold at throwaway rates.
A rest house at Bathinda which had 500 seesham trees and eight acres of cultivable prime land, had been sold at Rs 4.5 lakh to a favourite. He said Mr Badal had caused a loss in crores to the state by allowing private bus operators to ply buses without permits.
He alleged that Mr Badal had entered into a secret deal with top businessmen and industrialists and asked them not to deposit sales tax. When ordinary traders also started doing so, he enacted a law "very dangerous for traders".
He criticised Mr Badal for not taking action against bogus travel agents and owners of private finance companies who had looted the state of Rs 10,000 crore. He demanded that a special cell under the ADGP be created and special courts set up for their trial.
Commercial sites auction
CHANDIGARH, Nov 13 The Punjab Urban Planning and Development Authority (PUDA) earned Rs 96.42 lakh at an auction of 10 freehold commercial sites in Sector 32-A, located along the Samrala road in Ludhiana, yesterday.
A PUDA spokesman said the highest bid was for Rs 7.46 lakh for an SCO with a reserve price of Rs 3.14 lakh. The sites auctioned by PUDA included SCOs and booths.
The disposal of commercial sites in all major urban estates of Punjab would be espedited on priority he said and added that PUDA was in the process of announcing a housing scheme commencing on November 15.
Cops raid discos
LUDHIANA, Nov 13 The city police today raided a discotheque-cum-billards joint near Fountain Chowk to check unscrupulous elements from indulging in obscene acts when a theme party sponsored by a Chandigarh-based events management firm, Doubloon, was in progress there.
It is learnt the police had received information that obscene acts were being performed there. But the police did not find anything to this effect during the raid. At least 50 couples were present in the party and the owner of this joint, Surinderpal Singh, has been rounded up.
Later, the police raided another discotheque near Punjab Agricultural University but no arrests were made.
Implement panel scales for
CHANDIGARH, Nov 13 The Sarab Hind Shiromani Akali Dal headed by Mr Gurcharan Singh Tohra has urged the Punjab Government to implement the recommendations of the First National Judicial Pay Commission in toto without delay.
Appreciating the commissons recommendations, a spokesman of the Dal, Mr Maheshinder Singh Grewal said that the recommendations would go a long way in improving the lot of the state judicial services.
CPI decries hike in bus
CHANDIGARH, Nov 13 Dr Joginder Dayal, secretary of the Punjab State Council of the Communist Party of India, has criticised the state government for increasing the bus fares despite an assurance to the people that hike would not be effected.
Hr said the Punjab Government was constantly imposing a financial burden on the people by ordering an increase in sales tax on various items and bus fares. etc. The people were being made a scapegoat by the government, which was inefficient and unable to handle its financial affairs.
ETOs suspension condemned
JALANDHAR, Nov 13 The Excise and Taxation Officers Association, Punjab, has condemned the suspension of Mr T.S. Virk, Excise and Taxation Officer, Gurdaspur, on a false affidavit furnished by a brick-kiln owner.
Mr B.S. Multani, president of the association, at a meeting held here today alleged the Excise and Taxation Officer had falsely been implicated at the behest of certain political persons in a false case. Instead of appreciating the officer, he had been punished, thus demoralising the whole class of officers working day and night in the absence of any facility like vehicles, telephones, accommodation, security and staff.
regretted the statement of the Finance Minister which
attacked the character of the officials of this
department. This is the only department which collects
maximum revenue for the state.
Cong threatens stir against
AMRITSAR, Nov 13 The Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee has threatened to launch a state-wide agitation if the SAD-BJP government failed to withdraw the hike in sales tax on various commodities and recent hike in octroi on textiles.
In a press note issued by Mr Jugal Kishore Sharma, President of the District Congress Committee, said the PPCCI would gherao the ministers during their visit to different areas.
He said Congress leaders, including Mr R.L. Bhatia (MP), Dr Raj Kumar, general secretary, PPCCI, Mr Joginder Pal Dhingra, Mr Subash Mahajan, vice-president, DCC, and Mr Banarsi Dass Bhatia visited main bazaars of the city like Tahli Sahib, Karmon Deori, Katra Ahluwalia and Partap Bazaar to make an on the spot assessment of the sentiments of the business community about the tax hike.
DC: grievances cases to be
ROPAR, Nov 13 All complaints, grievances and problems to be presented at sangat darshan programme in the district will be computerised for releases in a time-bound framework and maintain the record.
This was announced by Mr Gurinder Singh Grewal, Deputy Commissioner, while presiding over a sangat darshan programme at Kiratpur Sahib, 30 km from here yesterday. The programme was organised to know the problems of the residents of the Changarr area in the Kiratpur Sahib belt.
Mr Grewal said each complaint presented at the programme would be redressed in a week. He ordered the Xen (Public Health) and Xen (Irrigation) to prepare comprehensive projects for ending shortage of drinking water and irrigation water in the area.
Supply of goods to 8 fair price
ABOHAR, Nov 13 The supply of essential commodities to eight fair price shops has been stopped by the Department of Food and Supplies.
According to a press release issued by the consumer movement, a voluntary organisation, here yesterday the action was taken on the basis of complaints lodged by the movement alleging that the allottees had sublet these shops to other persons and some of them were already running fair price shops in their own names and indulged in black marketing.
One licensee was the father of a BJP councillor who had recently been allotted the fair price shop Mr Ravi Modi secretary of the organisation demanded that all these shops be allotted to deserving unemployed youth.
Youth Akali Dal chiefs
plea to Badal
PHAGWARA, Nov 13 Mr Amrik Singh Aliwal, president, All- India Youth Akali Dal (B) today urged the Punjab Chief Minister, SAD President, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, to give representation to youth while expanding Cabinet or appointing chairmen of boards/corporations/trusts.
Talking to newsmen here,
Mr Aliwal said a drive had been launched to motivate the
youth. He claimed that rival youth factions here had
buried the hatchet. Mr Aliwal, who had brought about
rapproachement, also addressed joint meeting of these
Post of DPI (S) vacant
MALERKOTLA, Nov 13 The post of Director Public Instructions (Schools), Punjab, has been lying vacant for the past six months. The government has given the additional charge of this post to the Administrative Officer on an ad hoc basis and deprived promotion to PES-I (school and inspection cadre) officers.
Mr Joginder Singh Aulakh, state president of the Gazetted School Officers Association, in a press note issued here has urged the government to fill the post immediately.
Similarly, the post of
Controller of Examinations (COE) in the Punjab School
Education Board has fallen vacant and a Deputy Secretary
is officiating as the COE. Mr Aulakh has demanded that a
senior education officer of the school cadre should be
appointed as the COE.
Another accused arrested
HOSHIARPUR, Nov 13 (UNI) The second accused, wanted in a petrol pump robbery committed on Divali day at Khadiala Sainian village, had also been arrested and Rs 20,000 of the looted amount of Rs 81,500 recovered from him.
Mr R.P. Mital, SSP, said
today that Jaspal Singh Satta of Bhalana, who had managed
to escape with the booty after injuring his accomplice,
by mistake, was arrested yesterday from near Nangal Bhure
Maur on the Hoshiarpur-Tanda road by Bhullowal SHO Manjit
Singh and a country-made pistol and three cartridges were
seized from him.
Plea to end child labour
AMRITSAR, Nov 13 Mrs Laxmi Kanta Chawla, a BJP MLA, has urged the state government to adopt a practical approach to end child labour instead of observing ceremonial Bal Dival functions in the state.
The ruling party MLA has
said there were more than 14 crore child labourers in the
country. This was because of illiteracy. She said the
government should enact an Act for making primary
education compulsory for all children. "Instead of
observing Bal Divas, a full year should be dedicated to
children, she said.
BSF Inspector cremated
HOSHIARPUR, Nov 13 (UNI) BSF Inspector Hazari Ram, who was among the six BSF personnel killed in an encounter with terrorists at Panjipora in North Kashmir on Thursday, was cremated with full police honours at his native village Haler, today.
Inspector Hazari Rams elder son, Arvind lit his fathers pyre amidst the sounding of the last post by BSF buglers.
Earlier, Hoshiarpur district police chief R.P. Mittal, BSF Deputy Commandant Darshan Singh, besides other district officials, placed wreaths on the body of the martyr.
Panchayat by-poll on Nov 28
AMRITSAR, Nov 13 The by-election of 11 sarpanches and 90 panches in this border district would be held on November 28.
According to Additional
Deputy Commissioner (Development), nomination papers
could be filed from November 15 to 18 in the offices of
the BDOs concerned. Scrutiny of the papers would take
place on November 19 and nominations papers could be
withdrawn by November 20.
BJP chief calls emergency
PHILLAUR, Nov 13 The Punjab BJP chief, Mr Daya Singh Sodhi, has called an urgent meeting of the Punjab BJP working committee on November 21 at Chandigarh.
This was disclosed by Mr
Sodhi here yesterday. He said all BJP office-bearers, BJP
ministers, MLAs, chairmen of different boards and morchas
would attend the meeting. Latest political situation
besides organisational matters would be discussed at the
All-India Cooperative Week
CHANDIGARH, Nov 13 All-India Cooperative Week will be celebrated in Punjab from November 14.
A Punjab Cooperative
department spokesman said here today that the theme of
celebrations would be "empowering people through
cooperatives". Seminars would be organised in this
connection during the week, he added.
AMRITSAR, Nov 13
Mr S.N. Yadav, pension adalat officer, has said that a
defence pension adalat will be held on November 25 and 26
at the Panther auditorium in Amritsar cantonment.
Grievances of defence pensioners relating to sanction
disbursement shall be heard and redressed by the adalat.
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